13.06.2019 - Stare Jabłonk, Poland
In a nutshell
Upsets, new champions, a stadium packed to the rafters, home teams raising the roof – was this the best World Championships to date? Well, as ever, before it all began we knew it would follow the same format as the eight previous events, a cool one million dollars up for grabs with the beach elite coming from across the globe to fight for the title.
The tournament was set in northern Poland, Stare Jabłonki, a village of some 700 residents. A popular tourist destination given its location on the banks of Lake Szelag Maly, its 18 miles (29km) west of Olsztyn, in would attract thousands of happy beach fans.
New nations lift the trophy
It was a historic championships as two new nations etched their names into beach volleyball history by winning gold for the very first time.
The men’s title went the way of the Netherlands’ Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer, a pair who had joined forces two years before and whose best result BEFORE WINNING THE WORLD CHAMPS was a fifth place in Fuzhou. Their burgeoning partnership took its time to get going: in their first two seasons together their best result on the World Tour had been ninth (in Gstaad and in Klagenfurt in 2012, btw.). 17s, 25s and 33s littered their results until 2013 when they found their rhythm.
In Poland, the pair got through the pool play before beating their Dutch idols and rivals Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil in the first eliminator match. Clemens Doppler and Alex Horst were beaten before they then dispatched Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Pedro Solberg in a thrilling three-set quarter-final. Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik were then brushed aside in the semis before Alex and Rob completed a remarkable tournament with victory over Álvaro Filho and Ricardo Santos in straight sets in the final. It was the second championships running that Ricardo had to settle for silver.
While it might have been a shock that number 13 seeds Brouwer/Meeuwsen took the title, there were not many surprised faces when Chinese pairing Chen Xue and Xi Zhang stood on top of the podium after taking the women’s title.
The duo came into the tournament as the number two seeds and the previous year had agonisingly missed out on an Olympic medal, losing in the bronze medal match in London – a place they had also finished in their previous visit to Stare Jabłonki the previous year.
Having got out of the pool, winning two of their three matches, they saw off Maria Antonelli and Agatha Bednarczuk in the first elimination phase before beating and Henriette Iatika and Miller Pata of Vanuatu to book themselves a place in the quarter-finals. A 21-15, 21-15 win over Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst secured a semi-final spot where they beat Liliane Maestrini and Barbara Seixas.
In the final, Chen and Xi faced another German team, the number 17 seeds, Karla Borger and Britta Büthe. Losing the first set, the Chinese fought back to claim the second and go on to take the decider 21-19 in a breathless one hour one minute of play.
A tournament sprinkled with success stories of the underdogs and outsiders, the men’s final was testament to that with the two teams seeded 13 and 10. Still in the men’s, Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk of Canada came into the competition the number 40 seeds but left with a fifth place finish – as did number 44 seeds from Spain, Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera.
On the women’s side, Borger/Büthe exceeded expectations as the number 17 seeds won silver. Ludwig/Walkenhorst, seeded 19, finished fifth, as did Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger – the number 18 seeds. American 22nd seeds Lauren Fendrick and Brittany Hochevar also reached the quarter-finals. Vanuatu’s Henriette Iakita and Miller Pata, seeded 37, finished ninth before losing to the eventual champs.
Worth a watch
If you woke up this morning thinking ‘yes, yes I am going to watch Brouwer/Meeuwsen make history today’ then the best thing to do is to do precisely that.
Relive the Dutch duo’s 2013 triumph in full on YouTube – and stay tuned on our channels for a special World Championships moments with Rob and Alex in the lead-up to this year’s Championships.
How did the Poles do?
Let’s put it like this: they did ok.
Stars of the show were Monika Brzostek and Kinga Wojtasik, who made a spirited run to the quarter-finals. The duo won all three of their pool matches and then saw off Laura Bloem and Rebekka Kadijk of the Netherlands in the first elimination stage, but fell to Italy’s Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti in their following match.
On the men’s side, ninth was also the best a Polish team could muster, as Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz fell just before the quarters, losing the eventual bronze medalists, Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik.
The three other Polish men’s teams also favoured well, as they all managed to get out of the pool but all would lose in the first elimination stage. Among them were a young Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak. The pair – then just 21 at the time–won all three of their pool matches but lost to Canada’s Saxton/Schalk at the first hurdle come the knockout stage. The same fate fell upon Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel and Jaroslaw Lech and Damien Wojtasik
A special World Championships because
Scroll up to read the opening paragraph… Yes: Upsets, new champions crowned, a stadium packed to the rafters and home teams raising the roof really did make this World Championships a memorable one. Well done Stare Jabłonki.
Impress your friends by saying:
You write down Stare Jabłonki on a piece of paper, carefully including the stroke on the L in Jabłonki.
You then say: “The 2013 Beach Volleyball World Championships took place there. It’s only a little village of 700 people. See that stroke on the L? Yeah, in Polish, that L sounds like a ‘w’ – So it’s actually pronounced Stare Jabwonki.”
If you do impress your friends saying this, please do get in touch.
The championships in three words?
New heroes crowned
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